FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The NFL combine's on-field activities began on Friday, and offensive linemen were among the first positions to compete in the variety of drills.
Offensive guard is seen my many draft experts as a priority need for the Falcons, but they could look to add depth anywhere along the offensive line, making Friday's workout of particular interest. While there is still a long way to go in the evaluation process for the draft, there were several offensive linemen who may have improved their stock with their test results at the NFL combine.
A quick note: Top prospects like Quenton Nelson weren't included on this list, because there's not much room for their stock to improve. Instead, I'm focusing the mid-round players who may have done enough to warrant a closer look by some teams. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order:
James Daniels, C/OG, Iowa:Daniels is a fluid offensive lineman who is at his best on the move and can climb to the second level well. On Friday, Daniels reaffirmed those traits by finishing second in the three-cone drill (7.29 seconds), sixth in the vertical jump (30.5 inches), 10th in the broad jump (9 feet).
- Comparable: Chris Chester
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Daniels' agility and ability to find good positioning for blocks while on the move makes him ideal for the Falcons' zone blocking scheme.
Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP:One of the top guard prospects in this year's class, Hernandez put together a strong workout at the combine. He led all offensive linemen with 37 reps in the bench press, was seventh in the three-cone drill (7.59 seconds) and tied for eighth in the 40-yard dash (5.15). His performance in the bench press isn't a surprise, but he may have taken some steps towards addressing concerns about his mobility.
- Comparable: Richie Incognito
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Hernandez is a well-balanced player with a great blend of power and athletic ability. His pass-blocking technique can still be refined at the next level, but he appears ready to make an impact in the run game from Day 1.
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA:Miller proved to be one of the top performers among the linemen at this year's combine. He addressed questions about his mobility and athleticism by finishing first in the broad jump (10 feet, 1 inch), third in the three-cone drill (7.34 seconds), third in the 40-yard dash (4.95) and tied for fourth in the vertical jump (31.5 inches).
- Comparable: Jeremy Trueblood
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Entrusted to block Josh Rosen's blind side as a senior, Miller has the experience and natural physical tools to make an impact at the next level.
Braden Smith, OG, Auburn:One of the biggest and stoutest offensive linemen coming out this year, the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Smith showed just how strong and explosive he can be. Smith finished tied for second with 35 reps in the bench press, tied for second in the vertical (33.5 inches) and tied for third in the broad jump (9 feet, 5 inches). His strength shouldn't come as a surprise, but it was notable to see how explosive he was in the jumps.
- Comparable: Kevin Zeitler
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Has more power to his game than agility, but a good coaching staff could help him refine his skills when moving. In the short-term, his size and power make him an intriguing prospect.
Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech:After beginning his career on the defensive line, Teller switched to left guard for the Hokies. A strong, solid player, Teller is viewed by analysts as a lineman with a lot of upside and physical talent, but one who could need motivating. His performance at the combine could convince a few more teams his physical traits are worth investing time in him. Teller finished second in the broad jump (9 feet, 6 inches), fifth in the bench press (30 reps), fifth in the three-cone drill (7.45 seconds) and tied for 11th in the vertical (29 inches). He could prove to be a steal in the late rounds, where he is currently projected.
- Comparable: Christian Westerman
- Why he's a good fit for the Falcons: Another player who might is better suited for a power scheme than a zone blocking scheme, but a drop-off in production from 2016 to 2017, which some attribute to a lack of motivation, may cause him to fall way down in the draft. If he's there in the late rounds, the upside to his game may make him worth a flier, assuming he can get that motivation back.